Originally published on Nov 20, 2012
That’s the new mission for Beth Fouhy, the former AP political reporter who this week became the Web portal’s senior politics and national coverage editor.
By Krystal Nancoo-Russell
It’s a crowded and competitive media landscape out there. So in her new role as senior politics and national coverage editor of Yahoo! News, former Associated Press political reporter Beth Fouhy is determined to do all she can to make Yahoo!’s offerings truly singular.
“In terms of what Yahoo! has to do, it needs to produce distinctive content that will stand out, that grabs the eye, whether it’s breaking a story or writing a story in such a way that just gives a fresh angle that you’re not going to get at one of our competitors,” Fouhy says.
She adds, “I think that’s going to be one of the things that I will work so hard with, figuring out ways to approach a story that make it distinctive and make it stand out and make it be something that people want to read.”
Fresh off the campaign trail after covering the presidential election for the AP, Fouhy started her new job on Monday. Based in New York, she reports to Editor-in-Chief Hillary Frey.
Fouhy will have both editing and reporting duties and will “play a key role in refining Yahoo! News’ future plans,” the company said in a press release announcing her new position.
Fouhy, who grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, began her AP career in 2003. Before that, she worked at CNN for over a decade.
Her focus going into her new position, she says, is to make sure Yahoo!’s coverage has a voice, “providing a balance between serious stories and things that are maybe a bit more whimsical, and just making really good, smart journalistic choices.”
According to the Web site traffic ranking company Alexa, Yahoo! News accounts for more than 15 percent of Yahoo!’s traffic. Yahoo!’s overall traffic ranks fourth among the world’s Web sites.
While Yahoo! News provides original content, it also showcases stories from other news outlets. “Yahoo! is a place that people go for news, and they go to look at a bunch of different news organizations that appear on Yahoo! News, including mainstream organizations like the AP and ABC News. So they’re our partners, that’s true, but they’re also our competitors, so we have to have to balance both.
“We are a journalistic operation working on a very well-trafficked Web site, and so we want to make the journalism the center of the mission, and also make the stories interesting and use the great reporting talent that we have… And I think we have to start with the fundamentals, which is good journalism and the reporting skills people have, and expand our thinking about it into how do we draw as many readers as possible to not only the site but to the original content that we’re creating.”
Ron Fournier, editor-in-chief of National Journal, worked with Fouhy when he was the AP’s Washington bureau chief and she was covering the 2008 presidential campaign and its aftermath. Count him as a major Fouhy fan.
“Beth is one of the most plugged-in, most respected, savvy political writers in the business, and she made AP better every day when she worked there,” Fournier says. “She’s going to make Yahoo! a better organization in this next step in her career.
“She’s a real tough reporter. She’s also a great colleague and team player, really grounded.”
Fournier says Fouhy is the kind of reporter who works very hard but also realizes there are important things outside of work.
Married and mother of a teenage boy, Fouhy also finds time to engage in her lifelong passions. She is a dedicated runner who has completed a marathon and has been a singer in a local chorus for several years.
Her father is Ed Fouhy, a well-known journalist who held major news positions at ABC, NBC and CBS and who served as executive producer of the presidential debates in 1988 and 1992.
Beth Fouhy majored in English at Oberlin College in Ohio and worked for a short time for a political organization in Washington that raised money for female candidates. But she soon found her way to the news industry.
“I think when I was coming out of college, I was hoping to choose a career that was different, because I didn’t want to look like I was just following my father’s path,” she says. “But then I realized that his path was really interesting and a lot more fascinating than a lot of other professions. I was drawn into it because I realized that what he’d been doing all those years was pretty compelling.”
She thought about going to grad school but then thought better of it. “I’d made the decision that I wanted to get into news and I applied to journalism grad school, and when I was waiting to hear whether I was accepted, I thought, ‘Well, why don’t I go get a job rather than go to grad school, because maybe I could learn everything that I would have learned in graduate school there.’ ”
Fouhy interviewed with CNN and was hired as an associate producer of the current events news program “Crossfire.” Looking back, Fouhy says that was an amazing break.
“So many experienced journalists would kill for that kind of job now, but back in the eighties, when CNN was young, they were recruiting a lot of young people not necessarily with a lot of experience, because CNN wasn’t in the league of the networks,” she says. “Now, of course, CNN is every bit as professional and well regarded as any other network, but when I joined, it was still kind of young and was still kind of doing things its own way.”
How did her father react? “I think he was a little concerned at first, because he knows it’s very rough and tumble and there are no guarantees in this profession. But I’ve been doing this now a long time, and he feels happy for me and he’s proud of me, so it all worked out.”
Krystal Nancoo-Russell is a graduate student at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.